The University of Hull was delighted to welcome the Princess of Wales today (October 5) to take part in a Rugby League inclusivity day.
The visit of Her Royal Highness, who is Patron of the Rugby Football League (RFL), highlights the significant value and impact of Disability Rugby League on its players, their families and local communities.
Hosted by the RFL, Hull FC and the University of Hull, her visit shines a spotlight on the power of sport to tackle inequalities as well as supporting and developing players regardless of their background.
During the hour-long visit to the Allam Sport Centre, Her Royal Highness tried her hand at wheelchair rugby, joining a training session with members of the world-cup winning England Wheelchair Rugby League squad. Wheelchair Rugby League is currently the most inclusive format across Rugby League, providing the opportunity for all to play together regardless of gender or disability.
She also learned about Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL), a full contact version of the game adapted for players with physical disabilities who want to access a running version of the sport, and Learning Disability Rugby League (LDRL), a non-competitive version of the sport specifically adapted for those with learning disabilities. She took part in a skills session with Hull FCs PDRL and LDRL players.
The University and Hull FC share a strong partnership, with the club relocating all its 13 teams to the University last year, including it’s flourishing Centre of Excellence. The Centre of Excellence provides an unrivalled playing, training and education experience for young players as well as progression opportunities into higher education at the University.
This year, five students from the Centre of Excellence have enrolled on courses at the University of Hull.
Professor Kevin Kerrigan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull, said the visit highlights the excellent work within the city on inclusion in sport as well as the strong partnership the University shares with Hull FC.
He said: “It has been an amazing morning for those who were able to spend time with Her Royal Highness, showing their skill, dedication and passion for their sport.
“Today has also shown the benefits of uniting an academic institution with a sporting giant. The partnership we share with Hull FC transcends sport. It is a unique collaboration, providing a clear pathway to Higher Education for young people across the region via the club’s blossoming Centre of Excellence, as well as creating amazing teaching and research opportunities. These include applied research projects which have the dual benefit of ensuring Hull FC is at the forefront of performance science, whilst enhancing the career prospects of our students.
“Furthermore, our partnership brings enormous benefits to the wider community by creating an inclusive, high-quality provision to increase engagement and participation in rugby-related activities, regardless of background, age, disability or gender. Both Hull FC and the University of Hull hope the partnership will inspire a legacy for rugby league in the city, with a 110 per cent increase in participation targeted within the first five years.
As part of the partnership our students are able to work closely with the club, overseeing training sessions and completing coaching and match official’s courses. Students also have the opportunity to take up work placements in key fields such as sports science, coaching, analysis and media.
More recently, the partnership has extended to Hull University Business School, with masters students being offered the chance to take part in a sports marketing challenge. Students were tasked with developing ideas for fan engagement and increasing revenue. By conducting pre-match research with fans and liaising with Hull FC Chief Executive, James Clark, the students were able to gain valuable experience, taking what they are learning in lectures, into a real-world environment.
Hull FC benefit from international-standard sports facilities, including a state-of-the-art high-performance gymnasium and indoor sports arena, sports science laboratories, wrestle areas, video analysis suites, four artificial playing surfaces and over 11 grass pitches, it provides Hull FC and the Hull FC Community Foundation with the very best rugby league facilities the region has to offer.